10 February 2007

Reduce Waste and Prevent Climate Change

16 February 2007. Quezon City. To mark the first anniversary of the deadline for the closure of dumpsites, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to national and local officials to shut down the over 1,000 dumps, which should have been closed on 16 February last year.

The plea came as both scientists and environmentalists underscored the need to cut back climate-changing emissions from polluting human activities, including wasteful consumption and disposal practices.

“The leachate, methane gas, dioxin and other toxic chemicals from dumpsites poison the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land where we harvest the food we eat,” reminded Romeo Hidalgo of Task Force Landfills/Dumpsites of Eco Waste Coalition.

“The Philippines, with the rest of the whole world, is currently threatened by global warming and its irreversible and grave effects.

Methane from dumps aggravates the climate change problem,” added Joey Papa of Bangon Kalikasan Movement.

Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 prohibits open and controlled dumps. The law advances ecological alternatives for managing discards through combined waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting and other policies and activities “which do not harm the environment.”

R.A. 9003 further calls for the establishment of Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), also known as ecology center, in every barangay or cluster of barangays. Currently, only 1,723 MRFs exist, which is hardly adequate to serve the needs of the country's 42,000 barangays.

While appealing for the closure, clean up and rehabilitation of all dumps, the EcoWaste Coalition is also calling on all citizens to take concrete steps to reduce waste size and toxicity, and avoid climate change.

The EcoWaste Coalition has come up with the following list of steps that concerned citizens can take to reduce waste and prevent climate change. The initiative is in response to the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions from polluting human activities, including waste dumping.


REDUCE
· Check for things that can be repaired or reused before purchasing new ones.
· Use bayong or other reusable carry bags when you shop.
· Opt for products with the least packaging.
· Find out and try nontoxic substitutes to personal, household and office items containing hazardous chemicals.
· Reduce hazards at home and workplace by using safer products or practices to achieve the task at hand.


REUSE
· Pick reusable products that can be cleaned and used time and again. Avoid single-use disposables.
· Reuse bags, bottles, cans and other containers to extend their life span.
· Consider borrowing, renting or sharing seldom-used items to save money and conserve resources.
· Sell or give surplus items to charities or neighbors instead of throwing them out.


RECYCLE
· Separate discards at source, recycle, compost.
· Patronize products made from recycled materials.
· Choose recyclable products and containers and recycle them.


RESPOND
· Share practical information on waste prevention, reduction, recycling and composting to community members and friends.
· Support and get involved in your community Ecology Centers or Materials Recovery Facilities.
· Work with community leaders to tap waste pickers as formal partners in the safe and organized recycling of segregated discards.
· Write to manufactures to make your preference for ecological products with less packaging and less hazardous components known.
· Pressure local government officials to close illegal dumps and manage discards ecologically.


For more information, please contact the EcoWaste Coalition at 9290376.

09 February 2007

Crusade for Waste-Free Elections Launched

9 February 2007, Manila. Campaigners for healthy environment today launched a crusade for a waste-free elections to avert the anticipated avalanche of campaign trash that will likely end up in the horrendous dumps scattered all over the country.

EcoWaste Coalition volunteers from various groups and communities gathered outside the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Intramuros, Manila to push the poll body to take proactive measures that will check and curb waste in campaign operations and activities.

Together with Ms. Earth 2006 (Water) Cathy Untalan, the Coalition’s “super hero” named “Walang Aksaya” (or Zero Waste) presented to Commissioner Rene Sarmiento a set of guidelines that the COMELEC, political parties and candidates can use to prevent and reduce campaign waste.

The campaign mascot “Walang Aksaya” in a green and yellow costume linked arms with the more than 50 “Waste-Free Elections Patrol” volunteers. Together they vowed to persuade political parties and aspiring public servants to use resources judiciously and stick to earth-friendly campaign practices. They will likewise keep tabs on “dirty” candidates that hurt trees and spoil the surroundings with campaign trash.

“We urge all well-meaning candidates to put waste avoidance and reduction at the heart of their strategy to win, so as to minimize the health, environmental and financial costs of unwarranted campaign trash. Sa kandidatong may malasakit sa kalikasan, may pag-asa ang bayan,” said Manny Calonzo, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.

Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the environmentalist leader of the Archdiocese of Manila, has endorsed the EcoWaste Coalition’s campaign, urging the COMELEC and Filipinos from all of walks of life to team up to ensure a clean election that is free from fraud and waste.

“As stewards of His creation, I urge all the faithful, especially the political parties and all those running for public office, to pay careful attention to the health and environmental effects of all campaign materials and events to ensure that nothing is wasted,” appealed Cardinal Rosales.

Waste-free elections, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, will diminish the wasteful consumption of paper and other valuable resources and minimize the release of toxic contaminants such as greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals into our communities and into our air, water and food supplies.

For instance, the EcoWaste Coalition is suggesting the use of post-consumer recycled paper for campaign materials to conserve trees and protect our forests, watersheds, and ecosystems. Data obtained by the Coalition show that each ton of recycled paper can reportedly save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water. Uncoated virgin printing and office paper, on the other hand, uses 24 trees.

The Coalition advises candidates to shun campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings and balloons, and also to avoid tarpaulin, Styrofoam and other plastics as their disposal has been environmentally problematic.

The launch of the waste-free elections campaign drew the participation of Buklod Tao Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan, and Zero Waste Philippines.


10-POINT GUIDELINES FOR POLITICAL PARTIES AND CANDIDATES TO PREVENT AND REDUCE CAMPAIGN WASTE


1. Designate a lead team in the campaign structure that will be tasked to prevent or reduce campaign waste to zero or darn near in all campaign activities.

2. Target zero tolerance on garbage in all campaign meetings, sorties and related activities.

  • Keep the campaign litter-free.
  • Shun throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers or releasing balloons in campaign events.
  • Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastic bags and other single-use containers for volunteers’ meals and drinks.
  • Set up segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in campaign assemblies.
  • Designate “eco-volunteers” to look after the bins and guide the public in the proper separation of their discards.
  • Clean up right after the campaign event.
  • Hire a local waste picker to pick up segregated wastes from campaign venue for recycling/ composting.
3. Refrain from using excessive campaign materials such as leaflets, pamphlets, posters, stickers, decals, streamers and other campaign paraphernalia.

4. For election propaganda materials: to include a friendly reminder that says “Para sa ating kalusugan at kalikasan, huwag pong ikalat, itambak o sunugin” or its equivalent in local languages.

5. Avoid the use of specific campaign materials such as tarpaulin and other plastics as their disposal has been environmentally problematic.

6. Use post-consumer recycled paper for campaign materials to conserve trees and protect our forests, watersheds, and ecosystems. To make recycling easy, avoid using plastic-coated paper.

7. Stay away from campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings and balloons. These are often burned or discarded in storm drains, esteros, rivers, seas and dumps.

8. Reject grafitti or vandalism, or the willful or malicious defacing or destruction of property.

9. Harm not the trees: spare the trees of election campaign materials. Use designated common poster areas.

10. Win or lose - remove election campaign materials from all sites immediately after the election day on 14 May 2007.


For more information, please contact the Ecowaste Coalition at 9290376.


Communities Protest Waste Incinerator's Test Run

8 February 2007, Cavite. Some one hundred people today protested the ongoing emission test run of the waste treatment facility operated by the Integrated Waste Management Inc. (IWMI) in Trece Martirez, Cavite.

Community members, nuns, students and advocates for environmental health from the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition joined the prayer rally versus waste incineration, which is banned under the Clean Air Act of 1999 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Father Hector Arellano officiated the Mass dedicated to the protection of the people's right to a healthy environment.

Eight women donning pregnant belly costumes stood still in front of the facility to call attention to the proven hazards of incineration, notably to women and children, and the need to assert the primacy of community health over corporate profit. One placard says it all: "Kinabukasan ng mga bata at mga nanay namin, una sa lahat!"

"We are convinced that the IWMI is not sincere in conducting a conclusive test of emissions and in making sure that the test results generated are reliable, independently verifiable and properly documented," said Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition.

"The IWMI has a previous history of testing emissions and never bothering to report," added Tolentino.

Merci Ferrer, coordinator of Health Care Without Harm, corroborated Tolentino's observation. She said: "The hasty convening of the multipartite monitoring team (MMT), without adequate technical preparation, lays the groundwork for the greenwashing of the IWMI incinerator. No effort has been made to make sure that the MMT is technically proficient to monitor the tests being made."

According to Ferrer, without the technical preparation to monitor the test, the MMT is effectively a rubber stamp for the IWMI.

In 2005, the IWMI was issued a cease-and-desist order by the Environmental Management Bureau of Region IV-A for failure to submit the results of two previous emission tests, for which the IWMI pleaded error in the sampling of the pollutants tested. The present test run, under a temporary permit-to-operate, began on February 6.

Manny Calonzo, co-coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said that the operation of IWMI's incinerator poses risk to public health and the environment as incinerators are scientifically known to emit hundreds of toxic byproducts, including dioxins, heavy metals, and particulates. Dioxins, the most notorious manmade chemical poison, can cause or worsen a wide range of extremely serious health problems such as cancers and disorders in the immune, reproductive and developmental systems.

In an independent test commissioned by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) in 2005, the eggs of free-range chicken living near the IWMI incinerator were found to have levels of dioxin that exceeded more than three times the limit set by the European Union (EU). The level of PCBs found in the eggs also exceeded the proposed EU limit.

Representatives of St. Jude Parish, Basel Action Network, Buklod Tao Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Children's Helper Project, World Vision, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives and the Mother Earth Foundation came to extend support to the "stop waste incineration" event.

For more information, please contact us at (02) 929-0376 or ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com